Reef Ride 2012 Concluded
Press Release Date: April 9, 2013
Location: Belize City, Belize
“I thank Oceana for makingthis possible. Oceana’s sponsorship, along with the support of my family and somany others, allowed Shaphan and me to today complete the ride across Belizehere in Punta Gorda, to coincide with a special day for our Garifuna brothers,”said inspirational paraplegic Jerome Flores shortly before midday yesterdayafter Reef Ride 2012 culminated at the Central Park in Punta Gorda Town, ToledoDistrict. Added fellow paraplegicShaphan “Bala” Domingo, “I am so glad I was able to meet this challenge ofriding a trike from Dangriga to Punta Gorda. Next stop: Rio, Brazil in 2016 at the Para Olympics!”
Reef Ride 2012, a 2-dayevent, left Dangriga on the morning of November 18th and that firstleg of the ride ended in Independence, where the team rested for the final legthe following day. Joining Jerome and Shaphan, were 12 cyclists from the BelizeZoo, including its Director Sharon Matola. On day two, Jerome and Shaphan were accompanied all the way fromIndependence to Punta Gorda by Cyclist John Olivera. There were intermittentcyclists who joined the Ride along the way into Punta Gorda. Reef Ride 2012 was very much a family affair.Jerome’s Dad Samuel Flores, celebrated his 54th birthday by ridingalongside his son almost the entire route. Jerome’s twin brother Jeremy, andhis partner Gina, also rode. DamionJones and Mitchell Bainton accompanied Shaphan.Other members of the FloresFamily, including Jerome’s Mom Francine Flores, his partner Alexie Silva,Sister Monique, Nephew Caleb, and CousinEsmeralda along with Oceana in Belize staff comprised the service team, which followed the riders to ensure theirsafety and that their other needs to complete the ride were attended to. Escortwas provided by the Transport Departments of both Dangriga Town and Punta GordaTown.
Jerome & Bala undertookReef Ride 2012 to complete the last leg of a challenge Jerome started back in2009 to ride a hand-powered trike across Belize. His primary aim, then as now: to bring awarenessto the plight of people living with diverse abilities. Through its sponsorship this year and last, Oceanain Belize sought to lend its full support to Jerome’s mission even as itsinvolvement bring attention of Oceana’s own campaign for a ban on offshore oildrilling due to its threat to Belize’s marine resource.Additionally, as theReef Ride coincided with Garifuna Settlement Day, it served as a means forOceana to salute our Garinagu compatriots as they celebrate their 1802 arrivalto Belizean shores.
Last year Shaphan followedJerome in the Oceana bus and committed to ride alongside Jerome this year if hegot a trike. He did as Jerome was ableto pass on to Shaphan the do-it-yourself trike he had used between 2009 &2011. This year Jerome rode an Invacareprofessional trike donated to him through US-based Challenged AthletesFoundation.
Orange Walk Town based Mr.Adrian Camara, who had accompanied Jerome on earlier segments to the Ride, wasagain unable to participate this year due to health issues. Beyond the ReefRide, Jerome, Shaphan and their team hope to represent Belize at the 2016 Para-Olympicsin Rio de Janero, Brazil, following the Summer Olympics. They also hope to beable of organize a series for fund-raising events in coming years whereathletes in wheelchairs go up against others not so challenged.